New Study Documents Ongoing and Pervasive Discrimination by Law Enforcement in the LGBT Community

Release
For Immediate Distribution
March 2, 2015

Contact:
Lauren Jow, jow@law.ucla.edu, 310-206-0314

LOS ANGELES — A new report released today by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law documents ongoing and pervasive discrimination and harassment by law enforcement in the LGBT community, especially among LGBT people of color and transgender individuals.

To address such discrimination and to improve effective policing more generally in the United States, President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing issued recommendations today to build stronger and more collaborative relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

Key findings from the Williams Institute report based on several national surveys include:

• More than one-fifth (21%) of LGBT people who interacted with police reported encountering hostile attitudes from officers and 14% reported verbal assault by the police.
• Nearly half (48%) of the LGBT violence survivors who interacted with police reported that they had experienced police misconduct, including unjustified arrest, use of excessive force and entrapment.
• Two-thirds of Latina transgender women in Los Angeles County who interacted with police reported that they were verbally harassed by law enforcement, 21% report that they were physically assaulted by law enforcement, and 24% report that they were sexually assaulted by law enforcement.
• Nearly half (46%) of transgender respondents in a national survey reported being uncomfortable seeking police assistance, 22% reported that they had been harassed by law enforcement because of bias, and 6% reported having been physically assaulted by an officer.
• Williams Institute researchers also documented widespread and frequent incidents of misconduct toward LGBT people by law enforcement in all regions of the country, including many instances of severe physical and sexual abuse.

Such discrimination, harassment and abuse undermine effective policing by weakening community trust, reducing reporting of crimes by victims in the LGBT community, and challenging law enforcement’s ability to effectively meet the needs of members of their communities.

The President’s Task Force recommends that local law enforcement agencies (1) adopt and enforce policies prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression; (2) implement training for officers to improve interactions with the LGBT population; and (3) improve data collection on misconduct by officers against LGBT people. These recommendations are in line with the specific steps the Williams Institute report recommends to reduce such discrimination and improve effective policing.

Click here for the full report.